The Problem With Seraphine

Seraphine v. Stephanie — I don’t have any makeup on in this picture, sorry!

I can imagine the knee-jerk reaction.

That’s insane! There are thousands of girls with pink hair! How could a random girl think she’s the inspiration for a videogame character in a $6 billion dollar game? She’s clearly based on someone else.

The short version is that a lot of details about Seraphine line up very closely with facts about myself: her name, her drawings, her cat, a lot of her pictures, her hair color, her eye color, her face shape, and even where she’s from.

The long version is below.

That’s Stephanie & Cat on the left, and Seraphine & Cat on the right.

The Full Story

In March of 2019, I matched with a Riot employee (I’ll call him John. I’d prefer not to post his identity publicly for reasons I’ll explain further down) on Tinder during a visit to Los Angeles and San Francisco for some final job interviews while I was still in college. He seemed nice, we talked a bit, exchanged contact information, and then he pursued me romantically for the next few months. We talked until May/June (when things ended for other reasons) but we frequently played League together and exchanged messages for ~3 months.

Then, John flat-out told me that he suggested an ‘e-girl’ or ‘awkward’ skin for Ahri to his coworkers that he implied was inspired by me.

Unfortunately, I don’t have our full conversation — I deleted them shortly after we stopped talking in 2019 — but this was when he suggested the skin.

He also suggested I should fly out and voice act for some kind of top secret project, which he didn’t ever reveal, but that he insisted I’d be perfect for.

Near the tail end of my brief friendship/relationship with John, I wrote an academic essay for a class about Piltover and Zaun that I shared with John and discussed with him extensively. He invited me to Los Angeles again and I accepted, touring Riot’s headquarters in May. When I arrived, he had printed out and framed that piece of writing inside Riot’s HQ. He even told me he had shared it internally. I was flattered, but a little self conscious that others had read my writing. I don’t even think he asked my permission. Another strange circumstance was when he gave me some gifts of posters and custom art of me as K/DA Ahri, which he told me Riot illustrators drew based on what he told/showed them about me. While I don’t blame the artists at all — I’m sure their intentions were pure — it was strange for how short of a time I’d known him. I flew home, and we stopped speaking entirely shortly after.

Art that John gave to me and pictures of my visit to Riot HQ

Introducing: Seraphine

Over a whole year passed, the pandemic took over headlines, and then sometime this year, Seraphine was released. I honestly hadn’t thought about John very much at all since then — I have a completely different life in the Bay Area now — but as soon as I saw what she looked like and realized she was going to be a League champion, I started scrolling through her accounts, completely freaked out. My worries only grew and my heart sank more and more with every post. While John never explicitly discussed anything concrete, he did mention a K/DA related ‘surprise’ of something that would release around my birthday, which is on September 19th.

One of the only images of Seraphine from her official Twitter account that has a date was posted and dated on September 19th, the first day she ‘worked’ with K/DA.

I had no idea how she was made or how this even could’ve happened, but scrolling through this Twitter and remembering things John said or did, I started to realize that this character — whose very name, Seraphine, is so similar to Stephanie — could seriously be based off me.

That’s Stephanie’s art on the left, (I was deciding to dye my hair pink and drew the options) but I frequently draw myself in this style. Seraphine’s, of course, is on the right.
Pictures from when I knew John (I was actually in the process of bleaching my hair white to go pink)

OK, maybe she could be based off you — so what?

Well, if you care about me personally at all, it hasn’t been that great.

Seraphine and Stephanie, Santa Monica Beach

Conclusions/What’s Next?

All-in-all, this whole situation has been really violating. Every article about her makes my stomach turn. It’s both a personal point of frustration and also, I guess, it may be just another way a giant videogame company has screwed over a woman without a second thought— and massively profited off it.

tx for reading bye ❤

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